What is mineral exploration?

Mineral exploration is a set of processes that are followed to discover whether or not economic minerals occur in a particular area.

These processes can be broken down into stages and the decision whether to progress to the next stage is determined by the results of the previous stage. The exploration process can therefore take several years to complete.

What is Evolution doing at Puhipuhi?

Evolution is conducting an exploration programme at Puhipuhi to understand the geology and determine whether economic gold and silver deposits exist at a target depth of around 200 – 500 metres underground. At this early stage, it is uncertain if any such deposits exist and therefore, establishing a mine at Puhipuhi would be years away and may not occur at all.

Evolution Mining New Zealand currently holds an active Exploration Permit over the Puhipuhi area (EP51985) and an additional Exploration Permit (EP60018) over adjoining areas (granted on April 13, 2016). Decisions on whether or not to apply for a mining permit would only take place after an extensive exploration and drilling program which will take a number of years to complete.

The first step of our exploration programme has been a thorough environmental assessment of the permit area. This enables us to:

  • understand any potential environmental risk associated with future exploration activities before they begin
  • identify the most appropriate method to manage the risks and significantly reduce or remove the effect

If Evolution is unable to identify a way to conduct our activities safely and without harm to the environment, we will not proceed.


Read more about Exploration in our fact sheet

We understand that some members of the local community are concerned about the environmental impact of our exploration activities and any potential future mining should the project ever proceed to that phase. In particular, concerns have been expressed around potential release of mercury into the waterways, given the high levels of naturally occurring mercury in the Puhipuhi area and legacy issues relating to past mining and quarrying practices in the region.

Community engagement will occur throughout all phases of our project, including in relation to any environmental controls we propose to put in place.

Our initial work involves reviewing historic environmental data and conducting an environmental baseline study, which commenced in February 2016. Evolution has consulted members of the local community, including Tangata Whenua, about the scope of this work in order to specifically address local concerns.

No exploration drilling will be conducted at Puhipuhi by Evolution Mining before we complete assessments of potential environmental effects and identify appropriate controls, based on the outcome of the baseline study and in consultation with Tangata Whenua and the community.

Read more under Environment